ALGIERS, Algeria: Five civilians were killed and three wounded in a roadside bomb attack in eastern Algeria, the defence ministry said, the deadliest attack targeting civilians in recent years.
The bomb went off as a car drove by in the region of Tebessa on Thursday, the ministry said in a statement.
“Five citizens died and three others were wounded when a homemade bomb exploded as their car drove in Oueid Khenig-Roum, near the district of Telidjane in Tebessa prefecture,” it said without elaborating.
The same statement added that an armed group fighter was killed by troops in the neighbouring region of Khenchela, but it was not immediately clear if the two incidents were related.
“Following an ambush in Oued Boudekhane … in Khenchela prefecture, a detachment of the People’s National Armed Forces shot dead … a dangerous terrorist,” the statement said.
A machine gun, ammunition, mobile phones and a radio transmitter were recovered during the operation, the defence ministry said.
Algerian authorities use the term “terrorist” to describe armed groups that have been active in the country since the early 1990s.
Between 1992 and 2002, a civil war pitting the army against multiple armed groups left an estimated 200,000 people dead.
A 2005 Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation was supposed to have turned the page on the conflict, but groups continue to carry out sporadic operations.
Earlier this month, the ministry said six fighters and three Algerian soldiers were killed over two days in separate clashes in the west of the country.
In December, a clash in the Jijel region east of Algiers killed an army staff sergeant and three suspected fighters. The army later announced it had captured a “dangerous terrorist”.
Over last year, 21 fighters were killed, nine were captured and seven surrendered during Algerian army operations, the military said in a tally published earlier this month.